Economic performance and outlook: From 2011 to 2016, real GDP growth averaged 3.3%, down from 7.1% from 2000 to 2010. Growth was estimated at 3.5% in 2017, reflecting lower domestic demand due to the removal of energy subsidies and weaker imports due to the depreciation of the exchange rate and U.S. sanctions, which were permanently revoked in October 2017. Medium-term growth in 2018–19 is projected to average 3.7%, driven by private and public consumption and reforms induced by the removal of sanctions. The immediate impact of reforms will hinder growth, but this is expected to recover with higher domestic supply and exports over the medium term.
Macroeconomic evolution: Despite estimated revenue shortfalls in 2017, government expenditure remained constant; the budget deficit widened an estimated 0.6 percentage point to 2.4%, up from 1.8% in 2016. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the actual deficit is expected to be much larger (7.7% of GDP) because subsidies linked to official exchange rates are recorded only in the Central Bank’s balance sheet. Monetary policy continues to be expansionary to accommodate growing fiscal financing needs. The Central Bank’s higher purchases of gold, which accounted for 39% of exports in 2017, coupled with lending to agriculture, caused reserve money to grow from 27.5% at the end of 2016 to 52% in June 2017. Inflation soared from 17.2% in September 2016 to 35.1% in September 2017. The current account narrowed, reflecting reduced imports. The public external debt, most of which is in arrears, remains high and unsustainable.
Tailwinds: The permanent lifting of economic sanctions after 20 years is expected to strengthen competitiveness and stimulate economic growth. The IMF estimated a full-year revenue gain of 5.2% of GDP from the exchange rate unification, giving the country more fiscal space for social and capital spending. A unified exchange rate will also increase gold exports. Rigorously implementing the exchange rate and tax and subsidy reforms planned for 2018 will enhance diversification from minerals-led growth into agriculture and manufacturing. Rehabilitating cross-border trade corridors, by improving Sudan’s sea port services delivery, will provide a solid foundation for implementing the bilateral agreements that Sudan signed with Chad, Egypt, and Ethiopia in 2016 to boost trade and regional cooperation, including on security issues. In September 2017, the United States removed Sudan from the list of countries whose citizens are subject to travel restrictions, and, in October 2017, permanently lifted sanctions on Sudan. This positive development opens a new window of opportunity for Sudan to fully integrate into the world economy and to boost economic growth through trade and unhindered financial flows.
Headwinds: Final settlement of the conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile, and South Kordofan states is important for embarking on deep macroeconomic and structural reforms critical to the country’s sustainable development. While the exchange rate and subsidy reforms are fundamental for macroeconomic stability, the IMF estimated that inflation could increase significantly, which would require further measures to enhance supply responses and provide cushions for poor people. Overhauling the business environment continues to present grave challenges. Foreign direct investment declined in the first two quarters of 2017, to $4.8 billion, down from $5.8 billion in the first two quarters of 2016. As highlighted by the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report, Sudan slipped two positions, to a ranking of 170 out of 190 countries; major weaknesses were protection of minority investors, access to credit, and cross-border trade. Sudan’s 2016 value on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index (0.490) is below the average of countries in the low human development group (0.497), which suggests that greater efforts are needed to improve institutional capacity and reduce inequality.
Guide to Buying Bonds
Capital gains are taxed as ordinary income.
Settlement cycle is T+8 days, except for Government Musharaka Certificates (T+1).
Openness to international investors
The government encourages foreign investment. There are no legal distinctions made between foreign and domestic companies. Officially, foreign and domestic investments are treated equally under the law. Foreign investment is restricted in certain sectors of the economy and requires government approval.
Bureaucracy is cumbersome and prone to corruption. Political instability and inadequate infrastructure also discourage investment. All residents may hold foreign exchange accounts. Non-residents may hold foreign exchange accounts with government approval. Some restrictions and controls apply to all transactions involving capital market securities, money market instruments, credit operations, and outward direct investment.
The purchase of government securities is open to foreign investors.
In May 2003, the Central Bank adopted a managed floating foreign exchange regime. In 2007, the currency was redenominated by a factor of one new Sudanese pound equal to 100 old Sudanese dinars.
Foreign Exchange restrictions and profit repatriation
Profits can be remitted but proper documentation is required before funds can be transferred out of the country.